USA — Navy Intel Chief: Information Dominance Must Balance Firepower

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2011 — “Infor­ma­tion as war­fare” requires oper­a­tional com­man­ders to employ intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance to dom­i­nate the infor­ma­tion realm even as they direct com­bat actions, the Navy’s senior intel­li­gence offi­cer said today.

Vice Adm. David J. “Jack” Dorsett, the direc­tor of naval intel­li­gence and deputy chief of naval oper­a­tions for infor­ma­tion dom­i­nance, spoke to defense writ­ers about what he called a shift from an Indus­tri­al Age mil­i­tary force to an Infor­ma­tion Age force. 

“We’re great at strike war­fare -– drop­ping bombs. It’s now time for the Navy, and frankly the U.S. joint forces, to step up and start deal­ing with infor­ma­tion in a much more sophis­ti­cat­ed man­ner than they have in the past,” Dorsett said. 

Adm. Gary Roug­head, chief of naval oper­a­tions, announced in Octo­ber 2009 the Navy was com­bin­ing its intel­li­gence direc­torate, com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works and relat­ed infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy capa­bil­i­ties into the infor­ma­tion dom­i­nance organization. 

Dorsett said as leader of that orga­ni­za­tion he serves as the Navy’s “banker” for infor­ma­tion capabilities. 

“I do resources, I do require­ments, I do poli­cies,” he said. “Tenth Fleet is the oper­a­tional com­man­der for our cyber forces and our net­work forces, and our Navy’s infor­ma­tion oper­a­tional capabilities. 

“Tenth Fleet is a three-star oper­a­tional com­man­der,” he con­tin­ued. “The [chief of naval oper­a­tions] this past year also cre­at­ed Navy Cyber Com­mand, a two-star com­man­der, and he’s respon­si­ble for man­ning, train­ing and equip­ping the fleet.” 

In just over a year since the Navy reor­ga­nized its intel­li­gence and tech­nol­o­gy com­mu­ni­ties, Dorsett said, the ser­vice has made great progress in orga­niz­ing its work force and devel­op­ing sen­sors and net­works, but has­n’t accom­plished as much in ana­lyz­ing col­lect­ed intelligence. 

“Man­ag­ing data, mak­ing sense of the infor­ma­tion, is one of our largest chal­lenges,” Dorsett said. “Part of the job deal­ing with infor­ma­tion dom­i­nance is look­ing at infor­ma­tion from one end to the oth­er: from sen­sors to net­works to trans­port to exploita­tion dissemination. 

“One area this past year we haven’t made as much progress on was on pro­cess­ing, exploita­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion,” he con­tin­ued. “It’s high on our list for this upcom­ing year.” With­in the Defense Depart­ment, the Navy is pri­mar­i­ly part­ner­ing with the Air Force in “tack­ling imagery exploita­tion first, as some­thing … eas­i­er to get our hands around,” Dorsett said. 

“But we’re also part­ner­ing with agen­cies like the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency on their cloud com­put­ing ini­tia­tives, their cyber pilot ini­tia­tives, and … how you man­age infor­ma­tion, how do you get it to flow from one point to anoth­er,” he added. 

Effec­tive­ly pro­cess­ing intel­li­gence imagery –- man­ag­ing data -– requires com­bin­ing auto­mat­ed tools with skilled human analy­sis, Dorsett said. 

“An awful lot can be auto­mat­ed,” he said. “You don’t need to look at every sin­gle piece of elec­tro-opti­cal imagery that comes in, nec­es­sar­i­ly. You need tools to alert you to the key issues that you can then apply an ana­lyst to.” 

But if those ana­lysts aren’t well-trained and expe­ri­enced in look­ing at data from sig­nals intel­li­gence to imagery to open-source data, Dorsett said, some of the avail­able infor­ma­tion will be lost. 

“We look at things holis­ti­cal­ly,” he said. “If you just look at the data and tech­nol­o­gy and tools and you for­get to apply ener­gy to train­ing your peo­ple, you won’t get to the right solu­tion set.” 

A major empha­sis over the past year, he said, has been to increase the num­ber of sen­sors gath­er­ing imagery in the “bat­tle space.”

“But I think more needs to be applied to this issue of pro­cess­ing, exploita­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion, espe­cial­ly as all of the ser­vices bring more sen­sors to bear in our future capa­bil­i­ties,” Dorsett said. “That’s part of our game plan.” 

In replac­ing lega­cy weapons sys­tems with new capa­bil­i­ties, he said, a one-for-one sub­sti­tu­tion isn’t the most effec­tive approach. 

The Navy is tak­ing a “fam­i­ly of sys­tems” approach to bal­ance infor­ma­tion and fire­pow­er require­ments, he said, not­ing the approach includes incor­po­rat­ing sig­nals intel­li­gence capa­bil­i­ty on sur­face ships. 

“One of the prin­ci­ples for infor­ma­tion dom­i­nance is, every plat­form needs to be a sen­sor and every sen­sor needs to be net­worked,” Dorsett said. 

While increas­ing the intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing capa­bil­i­ty of weapons sys­tems is crit­i­cal, he said, the mil­i­tary also needs to main­tain its oth­er com­bat capabilities. 

The Navy’s P‑8 Posei­don air­craft is an exam­ple, he said. The air­craft, now in devel­op­ment as an anti-sub­ma­rine and ship­ping inter­dic­tion plat­form, is “a pri­ma­ry warfight­ing tool for the Navy,” Dorsett said. 

“We don’t want to opti­mize it for [sig­nals intel­li­gence] at the expense of [asym­met­ric war­fare],” he said. “We’ll deal with spi­ral approach­es to a vari­ety of our sys­tems and plat­forms and plug-and-play in the years ahead, so I would­n’t pre­clude the P‑8 from hav­ing a [sig­nals intel­li­gence] or [mul­ti intel­li­gence] pay­load, but at this point we’re going to focus on pri­mar­i­ly on [asym­met­ric warfare].” 

His­tor­i­cal­ly, the U.S. mil­i­tary has empha­sized com­bat pow­er over intel­li­gence activ­i­ties, Dorsett said. 

“I think you see, with the Depart­ment of Defense and the cre­ation of [U.S.] Cyber Com­mand, the recog­ni­tion by the sec­re­tary of defense and the seniors with­in the depart­ment that the non­k­i­net­ic, the cyber, the infor­ma­tion side of the house is real­ly crit­i­cal,” he said. “You need a com­bat­ant com­man­der that is deal­ing in that are­na as his pri­ma­ry mis­sion area.” Com­man­ders in Iraq and Afghanistan have seen the val­ue of inte­grat­ing intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance capa­bil­i­ties with oper­a­tions over the last five years, he said. “Ops-intel inte­gra­tion was the 2000–2010 era improve­ment we made in joint war-fight­ing,” Dorsett said. “2010–2020, it needs to be this ele­va­tion of non-kinet­ic infor­ma­tion capabilities.” 

The Navy has inte­grat­ed intel­li­gence and sur­veil­lance capa­bil­i­ties, elec­tron­ic war­fare, cyber, net­works, oceanog­ra­phy and mete­o­rol­o­gy –- knowl­edge of the envi­ron­ment –- to break down bar­ri­ers in warfight­ing, Dorsett said. 

“Out of bal­ance? We have been,” he said. “I think … DOD is tak­ing a vari­ety of steps to make improve­ments in this non-kinet­ic, infor­ma­tion side of the house.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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